Put another nickel in

When in doubt or short of cash, take a gamble, add another tax on folks

When in doubt or short of cash, take a gamble, add another tax on folks, encourage them to gamble on a slot machine.

This seems to be the solution the BC Liberal government turns to in times of fiscal short falls – such as the current financial issues with BC Ferries.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone and BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan announced reductions and fare increases to the ferry service on Monday. Cancelled runs are mostly early morning or late evening, many with passenger loads of 20 per cent or less. The largest reduction is a one-third cut to Port Hardy-Prince Rupert run, BC Ferries’ longest and heavily subsidized service that lost $31 million on operations last year. Other runs being cut include Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island, Comox to Powell River, Gabriola Island to Nanaimo and Quadra Island to Campbell River.

Fare increases over the next two years will be in the 4 per cent range. There will no longer be free Seniors’ days Monday to Thursday replaced by 1/2 price fare reductions on all days.

Finally, seemingly at a loss as to how to cut costs further – they certainly would not want to cut management salaries any further – Minister Stone and CEO Corrigan announced that BC Ferries would put in pilot project with slot machines on the main runs from Vancouver Island to the mainland to test the revenue potential.

Not surprisingly opponents to the cuts say the reduced service will adversely affect business and lifestyle. Anyone who has occasion to visit the Gulf Island knows the frustrations of taking multiple ferries to reach their destination. A seemingly simple trip to Salt Spring now takes most of a day and connections have to be carefully timed. Other islands are worse. And a trip is the better part of days wages or a good chunk of a pension cheque – and the days of taking an RV or trailer to the Island are over for most folks.

Cuts in service and increases in fares only compound the issue of unfilled ferries, producing less revenue for BC Ferries and less business for Island businesses.

The ridiculous notion of adding slot machines will only add to the fare and take more money out of patron’s pockets. This is, afterall British Columbia not Nevada.

The cuts in service, increase in fares and “testing” of slot machines are all items that need to be rethought.














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